By PATRICK CASEY
The Walton Lady Braves girls basketball team posted a 66-51 victory over the Ponce de Leon Pirates on Thursday night as Krista McQueen scored 19 points while teammate Deja Tucker added 18.
The Pirates jumped out to an 18-11 lead after the first quarter as the visiting team hit 7-of-14 shots from the field while Walton struggled to hit only 4-of-15 field goal attempts.
The Braves saved their shooting prowess for the second quarter as they went on a 28-6 run that saw the squad can five shots from behind the arc as Caretha Paul drilled three of the long distance bombs while Tucker asserted herself in the lane by scoring 11 of her 18 points before intermission to lead the rally.
The Pirates turned the tables to start the second half by scoring the first 11 points of the quarter to trim the lead to 39-35 before Walton closed out the quarter with 10 points of their own for a 49-39 advantage.
Free throws helped the Braves to hold off the Pirates in the final quarter as Walton converted 8-of-12 shots from the charity stripe to pull away for the 15-point win. Walton made 14-of-19 free throws on the night and hit 22-of-47 shots from the floor to post their second consecutive win in the series.
Both teams struggled with turnovers as the Braves had 32 to 24 for the Pirates in an up-tempo contest.
Senior Hannah Howell led the Holmes County squad with 14 points while Delilah Bass had 12. The Pirates fell to 1-1 after an 87-30 season opening win in Bethlehem earlier in the week.
The Pirates captured the junior varsity contest in a 31-30 thriller to begin the evening. Walton followed up the win over the Pirates with a 65-30 district victory at West Florida, then squashed Panama City Arnold on Monday night by a score of 67-17 to move to 3-1 on the year. The Braves’ lone loss came in a 70-54 defeat in Bonifay against Holmes County on Nov. 12.
Team Notes: PDL holds a 17-16 advantage in the series since the 1992-93 season. Jerry Hester is in his fourth and final season as the Lady Braves head coach and holds a mark of 54-26 in that time. Walton plays at South Walton on Nov. 21 before hosting a pair of games in their 4-team Thanksgiving Tournament on Monday. Walton will face Rutherford at 6 p.m. while Holmes County will battle Mosley in the opening game of the event at 3 p.m. Brad West will see his boys team open the regular season with Gulf Shores at 7:30 p.m. while South Walton will face off with Crestview at 4:30 p.m. in the boys bracket.
By PATRICK CASEY